Introduction

A student initiative to reintroduce great-spotted kiwi/roroa to the Nina valley in Lewis Pass has enabled the Department of Conservation (DOC) to release two more birds into the area.

Date:  21 January 2013

A student initiative to reintroduce great-spotted kiwi/roroa to the Nina valley in Lewis Pass has enabled the Department of Conservation (DOC) to release two more birds into the area. 

The birds were released today (21 January 2013) by members of the Nina Valley Restoration Group and DOC rangers. They were accompanied by representatives from Ngāi Tahu rūnunga, Tūāhuriri and Kaikōura, who blessed the birds before they were released into the wild. 

Winners of the 2012 national Ministry for the Environment Green Ribbon award for Education and Communication, the Nina Valley Restoration Group is comprised of students, parents and teachers from Hurunui College. They have been undertaking extensive predator control work in the area for the last five years to create a safe environment for the release of great-spotted kiwi. 

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Hurunui College student, Anna Clarke, carrying out a health check on one of the young roroa released in the Nina valley.
Hurunui College student, Anna Clarke, carrying out a health check on one of the young roroa released in the Nina valley

Tim Kelly, the Hurunui College teacher responsible for the project, says “its success has been reliant on a combination of hard work by the group, successful fund-raising efforts and a big helping hand from the Department of Conservation”.

The restoration group receives ongoing support from Kids Restore New Zealand, a programme under the Air New Zealand Environment Trust. It has also received support from BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust (now ‘Kiwis for kiwi’) in raising the kiwi chicks through the BNZ Operation Nest Egg programme.

Through BNZ Operation Nest Egg the young kiwi were incubated and hatched at the NZ Conservation Trust’s facility at Willowbank in Christchurch. They were then transferred to the Bois Gentil Kiwi Crèche in Paparoa until they reached a safe weight (large enough to fend off their main predators—stoats) for release into the wild. The new kiwi will join seven other birds previously released in the valley through the same programme.

Roroa are the largest of the five kiwi species and are found in the wild only in Lake Sumner Forest Park and Arthur’s Pass, Kahurangi and Paparoa national parks in the central South Island.  They are threatened with extinction and classified as ‘nationally vulnerable’, the third most critical threat rating in New Zealand.

Background

The Hurunui College Nina Valley Restoration Group, with support from the BNZ Save The Kiwi Trust and Air New Zealand Kids Restore New Zealand Trust, have installed and maintained around 180 stoat traps in the Nina valley to help protect some of the remaining native bird species in the valley.

There are four main objectives behind releasing juvenile kiwi into the Nina:

  • to supplement what is currently believed to be a remnant, low-density population; 
  • to maintain the current range of great spotted kiwi;
  • to support a community group in their objectives to ‘restore’ the Nina valley; and
  • to monitor, in a managed site, the survival and behaviour of juvenile roroa, which have been through BNZ Operation Nest Egg 

About Kiwis for kiwi

Kiwis for kiwi, in partnership with the Department of Conservation, aims to bring together all New Zealanders to save our national bird. Operating since 2012, it is a new, independent trust carrying on the years of dedicated work by BNZ Save the Kiwi, to help protect kiwi and the places they live.

Its role is to provide funding and support for the many conservation organisations and community groups dedicated to increasing kiwi numbers, protecting precious kiwi populations from predators and restoring the health of their natural environment. Visit the Kiwis for kiwi website.

BNZ Operation Nest Egg™

BNZ Operation Nest Egg™ is a powerful tool to reverse the decline of key kiwi populations. Eggs and chicks are harvested from nests to save them from stoats and cats. The young kiwi are returned to the wild when they weight about 1kg, big enough to fight off these predators. More than 2000 kiwi chicks have been returned to the wild since the programme began in 1994, with captive facilities and hundreds of field workers from DOC and community groups throughout the country contributing to its success. The BNZ Operation Nest Egg™ egg harvesting, chick rearing and return-to-the-wild technique was developed for kiwi through research funded solely by Bank of New Zealand and is now also used in other species recovery programmes.

BNZ is supporting BNZ Operation Nest Egg initiatives through its sponsorship of Kiwis for kiwi. 

Learn more about BNZ Operation Nest Egg on the Kiwis for kiwi website.

Contact

Lizzy Sutcliffe/Fiona Oliphant, DOC media liaison: +64 27 470 1378

Michelle Impey, Kiwis for Kiwi: +64 9 375 1084 or + 29 478 4610

Tim Kelly, Hurunui College: +64 27 556 2785

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